As Macron epic delivery ends, it also wraps up the opening session of the first virtual UN general assembly.
We’re going to close down the blog now, but here is a look back at a morning of speeches:
World leaders appeared in pre-recorded videos for an unprecedented general assembly debate during the Covid-19 pandemic. Without the usual bustle and theatrics of the event, the normally-full chamber was virtually empty.
The morning was very much a fight between the multilateralism foundations of the UN and the nationalism and populism of Donald Trump and his allies.
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Macron says US pressure campaign on Iran has failed
Macron is now criticising the US for withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement and for its sanctions.
“The maximum pressure strategy, which has been underway for several years, has not at this stage made it possible to end Iran’s destabilising activities or to ensure that it will not be able to acquire nuclear weapons,” Macron said.
“This is why France, along with its German and British partners, will maintain its demand for the full implementation of the 2015 Vienna Agreement and will not accept the violations committed by Iran.”
He adds: “We will not compromise on the activation of a (sanctions) mechanism that the United States on its own, leaving the agreement, is not in a position to activate.
“This would undermine the unity of the Security Council, the integrity of its decisions and it would run the risk of further aggravating tensions in the region.”
French President Emmanuel Macronis up on the screens to end the morning session of the opening day of the general assembly, which has seen some of the world’s most powerful countries take the virtual stand.
Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines has appeared on the podium video screen.
Known for his striking speeches – including once comparing himself to Hitler – the president has started with a fairly standard UN speech, focusing on calling for international cooperation in fighting the pandemic and resolving global disputes, such as the South China Sea issue.
“I therefore call all stakeholders in the South China Sea, Korean Peninsula, Middle East, and Africa. If we cannot be friends as yet, then in God’s name let us not hate each other too much,” he said.
He begins by arguing that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council should retain their “veto power” over UN resolutions despite calls for it to be reformed. Many members states say the veto rule is undemocratic.
Of course, Russia is one of those five permanent members.
“When history faithfully records the global response to the worst health emergency of this century, let it be said that we stood and acted as one, that we provided leadership, and that we gave the peoples of all nations hope and courage.”
Compared to Trump and Bolsonaro, his speech was much more subdued. Let’s see if that lasts.
As Chile’s talk continues beyond the 15-minute deadline, Julian Borger has some analysis on China’s news-making speech:
Xi Jinping adopted the role of the adult superpower in the room in his address, presented in front of a painting of the Great Wall. Unlike Trump, he spoke the language of multilateral diplomacy. And he made news, declaring that China’s carbon dioxide emissions would peak by 2030 and the country would reach carbon neutrality by 2060, targets the EU has been urging Beijing to agree to.
Xi also announced some donations to UN funds – $50m to UN’s Covid-19 relief fund, and $50m to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.
As it was a pre-recorded speech, there was no reaction to Trump’s attack, but there were some digs at unilateralism without naming the US or its president.
“Burying one’s head in the sand like an ostrich or trying to fight globalization with Don Quixote’s lance will go against the trend of history,” the Chinese leader said, with a western literary reference apparently aimed at Trump. “The world will never return to isolation and no one can sever the ties between countries.”
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